Carmichael calls for independent assessment of trade deal impact on UK farming

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today called on the government to commission an independent assessment of the economic and social impact of its planned international trade deals on UK farmers and crofters. Mr Carmichael highlighted the broad concerns of farming groups about the government’s plans to open up access to the UK market for producers with different national standards to the UK’s, in particular as access the EU market has been reduced.

Speaking in the House, Trade minister Penny Mordaunt said:

“This deal brings new opportunities to agricultural producers making it easier to trade with New Zealand. It’s a gateway to joining CPTPP, a high standard trade agreement of 11 nations, and this will create new export opportunities for British farmers.”

Responding, Mr Carmichael asked:

“I have say to the minister that her confidence is not shared by hill farmers or crofters, it is not shared by the NFU or the NFUS. If the government is confident in their assessment of the opportunities and threats of this agreement, will the government then commission an economic and environmental impact assessment, independent of government, to show that they are correct?”

Minister Penny Mordaunt MP replied:

“This will be independently scrutinised, there is obviously the Trade and Agriculture Commission. We will ensure that any reports that are produced are produced in good time for all relevant select committees of this House. But there are tremendous opportunities, I also work closely with my counterparts in DEFRA to ensure that we are dealing with the genuine concerns of that sector as these deals progress.”

Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:

“It is good that the Trade and Agriculture Commission is up and running after a long wait but that is hardly sufficient to ensure that the government cannot undercut farmers and food producers in its rush for cheap and dirty deals. We all know that the government will do all it can to escape scrutiny of its workings. That is why an independent assessment of the impact of these deals on farmers and crofters is so essential. If they will not commit to this then farmers will have a right to ask why.”

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